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How to Make Your Phone Limit Your Screen Time For You

Category: Science & Tech,Technology

Apple even treats their limits this way. When you set a time limit on an app in Screen Time, your iPhone or iPad will let you use the app uninterrupted until you pass that limit. Afterwards, no matter what you’re doing in the app, you’ll be hit with a full screen warning that you’ve used up your time. However, you can choose to give yourself another fifteen minutes, or even ignore the limit altogether.

This approach makes sense. Most of the time you probably want to observe the self-imposed limit, but there may be a time when you just need a few minutes. Hitting the snooze button lets you keep your limit in place while still giving you some flexibility.

Google, on the other hand, takes a more hardline approach. When you set an app timer, that’s all the time you get. If you give yourself an hour a day to use Twitter, as soon as you hit your 61st minute, the app will lock down. The icon on your home screen will be grayed out, and if you try to open it, your phone will tell you that you can’t. If you want to use it anyway, you’ll have to disable the timer altogether.

In both cases, you can get around an app block if you really want to. However, it can still be helpful to keep those timers on, if only as a reminder of how long you’ve spent in an app. When even the bartender tells you that you’ve had enough, it’s a pretty strong sign that you need to stop. In the same way, if your phone is telling you to put the phone down, you can get around the limits you set for yourself, but at least you no longer have the excuse that you lost track of time.

Whether you spend too much time on your phone during the day may be subjective, but study after study suggests that you should at least put your phone down at night. This is where Apple and Google’s software really shines. Both platforms allow you to set quiet hours. During these hours you can still use your phone, but you might get fewer notifications, or a stronger nudge to put it down.

Apple’s Downtime feature allows you to set a few apps that can always be used — like your phone or text messaging app — but block all of the others. This “block” is the same sort of soft-block we’ve mentioned, where you can still get around them. However, blocked apps will be darkened on your home screen. When almost every app is grayed out and nags you to put your phone down when you try to use them, it’s probably time to just get ready for bed.

Google’s Wind Down feature is even more clever. For starters, it will put your phone in Do Not Disturb mode, which you can separately configure it to block all but the most important calls and messages. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t allow you to blanket disable most of your apps like iOS does, but you can at least stop getting notifications.


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